Little Nest Preschool on the Prairie

We have A LOT of fun curriculum planned for December! We’re featuring the book Mooseltoe and Winter Holidays… But for the week of December 7th we’re doing something a little special for our continuing holiday curriculum.

Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie was written by South Dakota resident Laura Ingalls Wilder in the late 1800s. If you ever have the opportunity with your family, you might stop in DeSmet, SD and visit the Ingalls Homestead, or attend the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books used to be required reading for South Dakota children. When I was a child, there were particular stories that stood out to me- particularly “sugar snow” and the ribbon candy at Christmas!

We’ve wanted to do a pioneer themed dramatic play center for a few years, which we began set up in November. Through what has been a tough year for many, we decided to revisit the idea of a pioneer Christmas that Laura Ingalls Wilder captured so well in her books. To educate our students on the founders of what would become the state of South Dakota. People who had many difficult situations and long cold winters, but also had many joys (maybe at times more joy than some of us do today). This curriculum is a nod to South Dakota’s past, and the pioneers that first homesteaded Dakota.

Gratitude. Simplicity. Pioneer Spirit.

We’re utilizing simplified versions of a few of her stories each day the week of December 7-11.

December 7th

Winter Days in the Big Woods follows Laura and her sister through the preparations for the long Winter and addresses the joys in the nesting during long cold Winter months. Students will create paper dolls and churn their own butter!

December 8th

Sugar Snow introduces the snow required to make maple syrup, and sets up the activity for the following day where students make “sugar snow treats with maple syrup” (or in our case, sugar ice shaving treats with maple syrup). Students will also make miniature log cabins.

December 9th

Christmas in the Big Woods details Christmas day for Laura and her sister. They play with cousins, and are thrilled to receive red mittens and candy sticks (we do have candy sticks for students, but we’ll be sure to send these home with parents for supervised snacking!).

December 10th

Going West describes the Ingalls family preparation and departure to head west from Wisconsin to South Dakota. They pack up their covered wagon and set off on their adventure!

Throughout the week, students will also have the chance to do open ended art and sensory activities and their normal math and literacy skill building activities.

We wanted to share this curriculum with you, so you can engage in conversation with your youngsters. Do you have a multi generational South Dakota family? Is your family history similar to this, or has your family been here long before homesteading days? What are some of your family traditions during the holidays? Can your child imagine being excited for an orange for a holiday gift?

Reading through your child’s curriculum is an excellent way to engage with them about their preschool day. So often when we ask children, “What did you do at school today?” they’ll give simple answers. “I played with cars!” or “I drew a picture.” When you read the curriculum, you can engage your child and help improve their communication skills. “I see you made butter today, how did that go?” You’ll be surprised how enthusiastic most students will become if you can jog their memory!